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Despite the frequency and prevalence of colic, its causes are still unknown and only a handful of treatments are available. If the baby is in too much pain and you’re eager to relieve it ASAP, then try some of the most common natural remedies for colic.

Colic is a term used to describe excessive infant crying that occurs for no apparent reason. Nothing helps with colicky pain a hundred percent, and parents are bombarded with conflicting and confusing advice. This is far from being helpful, especially for new, stressed, and freaked out parents. I’m all for mindfulness, and I practice it with my baby girl every single day.

Changing Your Diet, And Your Baby’s Diet

There is no quality scientific proof that either breastfed or formula-fed babies suffer from colicky pain more or less often. Breastfed babies may be sensitive to some parts of their mother’s diet such as too many leafy greens, caffeine, smoking, and the most commonly — a protein in cow’s milk and other dairy products, as studies have shown. Also, many bottle-fed infants are sensitive to certain proteins in their formulas. [1, 2, 3]

Try excluding dairy from your diet for a week if you breastfeed your child, or switch to a dairy-free formula, and check if things get better. To easily find what bothers your little one, try keeping a food diary, and use it to eliminate any possible trigger foods. If there’s no change, get back to your regular eating habits.

Try Smaller And More Frequent Feeds

Babies tend to let us know when they’re hungry by smacking their lips, turning their heads from side to side (also called rooting), making sucking sounds, getting fussy, and — at the last hunger stage — crying. Try to identify the earlier hunger signs and feed your little one before they start crying as crying leads to swallowed air. Pediatricians nowadays believe that crying and swallowed air cause gas, not the other way around as it was believed for years. Gas is not a cause of colicky pain in infants, but seems to be one of the symptoms of colic. [3]

Feed the baby more often in smaller doses even if they don’t suffer from colic, and colicky babies will need even more frequent feedings to avoid upsetting the stomach. It’s recommended that newborns nurse at least eight to 12 times per day. [4]

Chamomile

In a study done on 68 colicky but otherwise healthy infants, parents reported that chamomile combined with fennel, vervain, licorice, and balm mint eliminated the colic in 57 percent of the infants. [5]

My daughter had chamomile tea even before she had breast milk, just after the colostrum. When she was born, my breast milk didn't come in right away. I was so scared that she was hungry and didn't want to confuse her with different sucking actions and bottle-feed her, so I decided to give her some chamomile tea just “to pass something” until the milk arrives. I was eager to exclusively breastfeed my baby girl for the first six months as pediatricians and other health experts recommend, but she ended up being exclusively breastfed for about two days. It’s never as you plan, and it doesn't have to be.

I’m not sure whether she was a colicky baby by definition, but she did cry a lot without an obvious reason, and I’d give her a few drops for a few nights, just about as her cries would start. Frankly, I haven’t seen a lot of difference, but there’s plenty of evidence that chamomile is fairly safe and effective in the treatment of colicky pain in infants. [6] Of course, it’s best if you discuss feeding your baby anything except breast milk/formula with your pediatrician first.

Fennel

If you’re worried about giving tea to an infant, drink it yourself, and you will pass the health benefits to the baby. It’s simple to prepare, just add one teaspoon of fennel seeds to 250 ml of boiling water. It’s recommended that you steep it for at least 30 minutes, but I found it best to do it for two whole hours and then strain it. I drank fennel tea for at least five months after my baby was born. Another good thing about it is that it increases the amount of breast milk.

It’s considered safe to give this tea to an infant in small doses with breast milk or formula (about ½ to one teaspoon); my mum and both grandmothers used fennel seeds for tummy troubles of their children, and I myself did it with my baby girl.

Fennel is known to get rid of gas and relax the gastrointestinal tract. However, be careful and talk to your baby’s doctor before using it as some people — especially babies — might be allergic to herbs. [7, 8]

Lactobacillus Reuteri

Even though some older studies recommended probiotics such as Lactobacillus reuteri as an effective treatment for colicky pain in infants, newer studies suggest that they don’t benefit either breastfed or formula fed babies and are not recommended to treat colic anymore. [9]

To Sum Things Up

Because colicky pain in infants is one of those few mysteries of nature and nobody knows the real cause, try being mindful about it. Pediatricians are too strict, and homeopaths too laid back. Some chamomile or fennel tea probably won’t hurt the baby, but probably won’t help much either.  Be careful about your own eating habits if you breastfeed, or provide some good, lactose-free formula.

Some proven tips to relieve colicky pain in infants include holding the baby in upright position at least 20 minutes after feedings, burping them often, carrying them close to your body as much as possible (carried baby is a happy baby), some massage and tummy time, and most of all — being gentle and loving, as colicky screams get even worse when those people surrounding the infant are anxious. [10]

This is what helps most babies, and whether you should try natural remedies — especially plants — to relieve colicky pain in your baby is something to discuss with your baby’s health care provider, as all infants are different and what is safe for one might be dangerous for the other. Here's also a list of dangerous treatments for colicky pain in infants you should avoid.

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